Parkway Updates Plan to Return to In-Person Schooling


Zoom has become the new classroom for Parkway North but beginning Nov. 9, students will begin attending school in-person once again. The schedule is still uncertain but if all goes according to plan, North students who opt to attend in-person school will be back in the building very soon.

Brandon Lightfoot, Staff Writer

With the first quarter of Distance Learning wrapping up on Oct. 23, it’s time to move forward. However, the question of how exactly to do that has left the administration and the entire community perplexed. With all of the differing opinions and information changing daily, it is difficult to create a plan and move forward.
As of Oct. 14, the Parkway School District has landed on the decision to extend the first quarter by one week, moving finals to Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. Second quarter will begin on Nov. 4 with the first week being virtual for all students. Beginning Nov. 10, high school students will begin a blended learning model where half of the students will be in-person two days a week and the other half will be in-person the other two days with virtual learning occurring on the days that students don’t attend school in-person.
“Online went by way faster than in person. I am going to stay with Distance Learning because it is much easier than actually going to school,” said senior Chris Sommerville.
Parkway School District held a board meeting on Sept. 29 to discuss the plan to return to school in-person. With COVID cases in Missouri steadily on the rise, there was a lot to discuss and the board ultimately approved a plan that includes allowing high school students to continue Distance Learning until January, finishing the second quarter, while grades K-8 students will begin to return on a part-time schedule starting Oct. 22. If everything goes well, students in grades K-8 will completely return to in-person teaching beginning Nov. 9.
However, a week after the original meeting, on Oct. 7, the school board held an emergency meeting after St. Louis County Executive Sam Page recommended high school students return to in-person learning and at the urging of some parents to get high school students back in the classroom.
“I feel like they should just keep everything online at this point, by the looks of it, COVID is not slowing down. Also it will be easier just to tell everyone it is online than to keep changing the plan every week,” said Somerville.
At this meeting, the school board approved superintendent Dr. Keith Marty’s recommendation “to bring high school students back to in-person during the second quarter and as soon as we can do so effectively and efficiently.”
What that means and how it will happen is unclear. Currently, the district has announced that the virtual campus schedule will mirror the in-person schedule and will be from 7:35 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. daily. Classes will be 100 minutes each including a 10 minute hygiene break and 20 minutes for intervention work.
While some parents and students are happy about the board’s decisions, others are worried this is happening too fast.
“I wouldn’t mind going back to school, but with COVID still around, I don’t know if it is worth the risk of getting sick when I can just stay at home,” said junior Darrell Tucker.
Last Thursday, the district sent a questionnaire to families asking them their preference for in-person or virtual learning. On Friday, after the questionnaires were due, members in the district began the process of creating the schedule for both teachers and students based on their decisions.
“I think it is important that they hear from the parents, it is good that they give families the option to stay online. Once they do come up with a return plan I’m thinking a lot of families will do it online just because how convenient it is,” said Tucker.
The original decision for high school students to continue Distance Learning came from the constant rise in COVID cases from teenagers. Statics have shown that cases from teens ages 15-19 have been skyrocketing. This means returning students to in person school would bring forth a lot of complications due to the large amount of cases in Missouri.
“I understand why they wouldn’t send us back, our age group has a steady increase in cases so it would be a huge risk that would not be worth it,” said Sommerville.
However, according to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, more recent numbers have shown a downward trend in new cases in teens ages 15-19 with a 16 percent decrease at the end of September; it is high but stable.
With changes happening in the world everyday, the plan will most likely change as well. If you would like to stay up to date you can check the Parkway website.